T Nation

Stubborn Pecs

It seems like whenever I do chest exercises, I feel the burn in my front deltoids and rarely in the actual pectoral major/minor. I don’t have small shoulders, but it could be that I just have weak or tight front deltoids.

It’s pretty frustrating actually, because it feels like the only way I can get a decent pump in my chest is by doing flies, and even then my deltoids get a major burn.

I’m 6’2 and 175 pounds and I got my flies up to 60 pound dumbbells in the spring, but my bench press was only at 70 or 75 pound dumbbells. It’s annoying.
Any suggestions?

[quote]DemiAjax wrote:
I don’t have small shoulders, but it could be that I just have weak or tight front deltoids.[/quote]
So, are you strengthening and stretching them? That would be my first instinct.

Pre-exhausting is usually a good way to go. Also, I’d consider trying totally new exercises. Maybe your pecs respond better to declines, or decline DBs, or weighted push-ups, or dips, or Swiss ball 1-arm DB pressing. Experiment.

And switch up your pre-exhaust movement. DB flyes of all angles (an incline flye followed by a decline barbell press is always fun), pec-decks, 1-arm pec-deck, cable crossovers, pullovers, play around until you find something that clicks.

Alot of people (not me, but what do I matter) also seem to prefer working heavy with partial movements, just the middle few inches of the press. Not fully locking out, but not coming all the way down. It could be worth trying.

I use to have the same problem. I fixed it by rolling my shoulders back on the bench, lifting my sternum and pinching my shoulder blades together so as to engage my chest more. it took a while to get used to, but it’s only after that change did my chest really start developing.

[quote]Minotaur wrote:
DemiAjax wrote:
I don’t have small shoulders, but it could be that I just have weak or tight front deltoids.
So, are you strengthening and stretching them? That would be my first instinct.[/quote]

I do the three main shoulder stretches that are in the lazy man’s guide to stretching. I’ve also worked my way up from 30 pound dumbbells (when i was 155 pounds and flabby) on flat bench and incline to 75/70 respectively, so my stablizers should be decently strong. I feel like i’ve hit a plateau, that combined with the fact that i have relatively large and extremely tight upper trapezius muscles (essentially genetics, five years of wrestling and some novice track throwing. i’m not a master of the heavy shrug) means I have to stretch pretty frequently after doing relatively heavy pec or shoulder work. I’m not sure whether or not upper back tightness could have anything to do with my front deltoid being tight as well.

I’ll work on your pre-exhaustion suggestions; thanks for the advice.
I haven’t really been big on cable exercises for chest and might give it a shot.

[quote]Minotaur wrote:
DemiAjax wrote:
I don’t have small shoulders, but it could be that I just have weak or tight front deltoids.
So, are you strengthening and stretching them? That would be my first instinct.[/quote]

Pre-exhausting is usually a good way to go. Also, I’d consider trying totally new exercises. Maybe your pecs respond better to declines, or decline DBs, or weighted push-ups, or dips, or Swiss ball 1-arm DB pressing. Experiment.

And switch up your pre-exhaust movement. DB flyes of all angles (an incline flye followed by a decline barbell press is always fun), pec-decks, 1-arm pec-deck, cable crossovers, pullovers, play around until you find something that clicks.

Alot of people (not me, but what do I matter) also seem to prefer working heavy with partial movements, just the middle few inches of the press. Not fully locking out, but not coming all the way down. It could be worth trying.[/quote]

[quote]matsm21 wrote:
I use to have the same problem. I fixed it by rolling my shoulders back on the bench, lifting my sternum and pinching my shoulder blades together so as to engage my chest more. it took a while to get used to, but it’s only after that change did my chest really start developing.[/quote]

Nice… i’ll give it a shot.

Demi,

Be sure to keep those shoulder blades tightly together throughout the entire movement. Many people make the mistake of thinking they need to lift the DB’s as far away from the body as possible, thus opening the shoulder blades and recruiting the front deltoid to finish the press.
Think instead of pushing your shoulder blades as hard as possible into the bench. As if the DB’s are stationary, and it’s the bench that moves.

My other suggestion would be to work a cycle of your heaviest DB’s on incline, with the slowest negatives you can. If you’re doing more than 3-4 reps, you’re going too fast, or using too light of a weight.

These are just personal suggestions… different things work for different people!